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Home » Current Events, Featured Article

The Astrology of the Obama Oath Controversy: The True Inauguration Chart

Posted by on Friday, January 23 200916 Comments

Obama takes oath of officeThe now famous Mercury retrograde stumble over the inaugural oath forced Barack Obama to silence any constitutional criticisms by retaking the oath a second time. This has thrown the astrological community into a bit of a tizzy about which chart signifies the actual beginning of Obama’s presidency, since astrologers will base many predictions about the future of his presidency on astrological alignments at the moment that he took office.

It seems possible that this will be one astrological debate that could conceivably continue for quite some time to come, and in light of that we will present some of the most common arguments in favor of considering the  second oath chart as the beginning of his presidency, as well as the counterarguments in favor of using the original time and date of the inauguration as the true chart for the Obama presidency.

The hope is that this will settle any lingering doubts over the matter, and help to establish a community standard for the chart, both in our work here on the Political Astrology Blog, and in the work of others.

Common Argument In Favor of the Second Oath Chart # 1:

The first most common argument that seems to be made in favor of using the second oath chart is that Obama is not President until he swears the Oath with the exact words.  Therefore the correct chart for the beginning of his Presidency is when he swears the exact wording of the Oath.

On the one hand, it is true that the Constitution says that the President cannot “enter on the execution of his office” without saying the oath”

Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:–“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

– Article II, Section I of the US Constitution

However, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution somewhat overrides the oath as the beginning of the presidency:

The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3rd day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

– Amendment XX, Section 1 of the US Constitution

This means that Obama could have been back in Hawaii watching a football game at noon on January 20th and his term would still begin at that exact time. This effectively means that the swearing of the oath does not signify the beginning of his term, even if it is legally required for him to say it.

Technically this could be interpreted to mean that Obama cannot “execute” the office of the Presidency until he has said the oath, as the Constitution requires, however he had in fact acted as the President and signed a number of executive orders into effect for a full day before he took the oath a second time. Does this mean that any actions Obama made before the do-over were unconstitutional?  This does not seem to be the case, and so far no one seems too concerned with that, because he wasn’t forced to re-do any official presidential business after swearing the oath again.

So then, does the time of the do-over bear any astrological importance?

Yes, it does. But only as a chart of a do-over. In the chart for the second oath of office Virgo is rising and Mercury retrograde is ruling the ascendant, with Saturn in the 1st house. Chart for Obama re-doing the oathMercury retrograde periods are widely known by astrologers as times for miscommunication, stirring up controversy, legal matters, and especially do-overs. Saturn is the planet which signifies doubt, caution, and fear.

After the flubbed oath at the Inauguration, some constitutional experts, including Obama, were concerned that without having said the exact words many would believe he wasn’t really sworn in as the President, and so out of  “an abundance of caution”, Obama took the precaution of re-swearing the Oath.  As a result, this chart merely reflects Obama re-doing the Oath, and the concern about having to re-do the Oath in general. However, his term had already begun, regardless of the oath.

Whether it was to the letter of the law or not, the ceremony held on January 20th around noon was the moment that Obama assumed presidential responsibilities, the beginning of his presidential term, not at the re-do.

Common Argument In Favor of the Second Oath Chart # 2:

The second most common argument in favor of using the second oath chart is that the Void of Course Moon at the initial swearing in did exactly what it was supposed to do, insomuch as nothing came of the first oath, so he had to do it again.

The Void of Course Moon has many different definitions aside from the modern one, and for many traditional astrologers the Moon was not technically Void of Course at the Inauguration because it was closely applying to Mercury, the Sun and Jupiter.

It is also worth pointing out that even according to the modern definition, the Moon was “Void of Course” at the moment of Obama’s announcement of his presidential candidacy, yet something certainly came of that matter. He became the President!

Of course, this is conveniently ignored by those who attribute the “void of course” Moon to Obama having to re-swear the oath.  It is also hard to ignore the parallelism of the Moon being in late Scorpio around his Midheaven at both the time he first announced his candidacy to be President, and the time he was sworn in as President.  Biden took his oath with the exact words in the exact same timeframe, yet he, the purported master of verbal gaffes, did not have to reswear his oath. The fact that Mercury was retrogade, a mere hour after the Mercury inferior conjunction with the Sun, is sufficient enough of an explanation for why there had to be a re-do.

Common Argument In Favor of the Second Oath Chart # 3:

The third most common argument in favor of using the chart for the second oath is simply based on the opinion that the chart of the second swearing in is better than the first.  This argument is mainly based on the notion that the condition of the Moon is somewhat improved in the second chart, simply because it is no longer “void of course” and in Scorpio.

The problem with this argument is that much of what made the original inauguration time so remarkable in the first place is completely lost in the second chart for the re-swearing of the oath, and in fact the second chart seems to be much more inauspicious than the first when using some of the common rules of electional astrologyObama's original inauguration chart, noon, January 20th

At noon on January 20th, the Sun, Mercury, Jupiter and Neptune were all in Aquarius in the 10th house, the highest point in the sky, reflective of governments, authority and leadership. A heavy 10th house emphasis is something you might expect to see in the inception chart of a presidency, and many of these planets were closely conjunct Obama’s own natal Aquarius placements.  Additionally, both the Sun and the Moon are angular, in the 10th and 7th respectively, and the ruler of the ascendant is an exalted Venus in Pisces in the 11th (as it has been for several other presidencies).

However, at 7:35 pm on January 21st, there is nothing in the 10th house. The emphasis of Aquarius has been moved to the anemic 6th house, the place of illness. The ruler of the 1st and 10th is Mercury retrograde in Capricorn, backing up into a conjunction with Mars. The Sun and Moon are cadent and angular, in the 6th and 4th respectively.

Even the much touted Moon in mid-Sagittarius, which is no longer void of course in the chart, is closely applying to form a T-square with the difficult Venus-Uranus-Saturn opposition, which arguably leaves the Moon no better off than it was when it was void in Scorpio.

There is nothing particularly striking or positive about this chart, except the fact that the Virgo/Mercury retrograde emphasis reflects the overly cautious or even nitpicky need to re-do the oath.  Clearly the former chart is more reflective of the beginning of a new presidential administration, while the latter is not.

The January 20, 2009 Noon Chart is the True Chart for the Obama Presidency

With all of the pro and con arguments laid out in this way, the answer to the question surrounding the controversy about the correct presidential chart for the Obama administration becomes quite clear.   The noon chart for Janauary 20th was not only the most significant chart from a legal perspective, but also from a symbolic perspective.  It clearly reflects the historical importance of what took place that day, as well as some of the major challenges that Obama and his administration will face.  Ultimately only time will tell which chart responds best to transits, progressions and other timing techniques during the course of his presidency, although it already seems abundantly clear which chart that will be.


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Written by

Patrick is an astrologer originally from High Wycombe, England. His personal practice is based on a blend of ancient and modern astrology. He is a member of the Association for Young Astrologers.

Hellenistic Astrology Course


  • yuzuru says:

    Lee Lehman also wrote against this nonsense of astrologers with the “second oath chart”

    Each and each time we see that in reality, astrologers don´t know their craft !

  • Nice job of showing all sides of the situation Chris.

  • 1. If McCain had won the election, he too would have been inaugurated on Jan 20 at 12 noon. The horoscope of a particular moment rules or prefigures the life-course of a self-directed organism, born of living impulses and existing for an indeterminate length of time. A legal term of office with a predetermined beginning and ending is not an organism. If two different nations had inaugurations at the same time, would their presidencies follow the same course?

    Regarding electional charts: that would be a chart chosen for the commencement of an activity. The freedom to choose the moment is fundamental; if the moment was not chosen astrologically electional rules cannot be applied to the reading of the chart. They are only meaningful with reference to moments where choice is possible, and are indicative of the careful reasoning that went into making the choice. There was no careful astrological reasoning that decided that Obama’s inauguration ought to take place when it did (either of them) so electional rules are meaningless with reference to either of these charts.

    Just speculating.

  • […] thing that is spectacular, is that instead of reflecting about what is the real time of the inauguration, astrologers are commenting things like “nothing can happen during an void of course […]

  • Axel Harvey says:

    It’s a blessing that the two maps are so different; there should be no problem distinguishing between the two as events unfold, and seeing which best describes whatever happens.

    I have to disagree with Mark Shulgasser’s take on electional charts. In a magical world, I suppose, it might make sense that certain rules apply if one has chosen an inceptional time but that these rules are inoperative in all cases of natural, unselected times. (I won’t even ask about the grey zone where a time has been set deliberately but for reasons having nothing to do with astrology.) On the basis of something roughly like Occam’s razor I would suggest that the rules of electional astrology are no different from normal astrological considerations, and they simply mean, “If you want your enterprise to succeed, try to avoid the following pitfalls and seek the following strengths which can be observed in any horoscope…”

    Still, Shulgasser is right to point out the exceptional situation of the United States, where changes of government are pre-set like a thermostat. In a parliamentary system, where governments can fall on any day of the year, the swearing-in of a new prime minister must be carefully timed: there is no other way to get the astrology right. This means there are certain regularities – presidential terms starting with the Sun always in the first degree of Aquarius, congressional terms beginning on the same lunar phase every 38 years, and so on – which make the political astrology of the United States unique, and which might explain both the remarkable durability of the US constitution and the resistance to change of its political class.

  • […] thing that is spectacular, is that instead of reflecting about what is the real time of the inauguration, astrologers are commenting things like “nothing can happen during an void of course moon”, and […]

  • Patrick Watson says:


    McCain would have had the same election for the inauguration if he were elected. But he was not elected. And in fact that is a way it could possibly be predicted who would win, by who has the kind of transits that day for officially assuming the Presidency. Basically the way I see it, Obama was meant to win the election, and McCain was not.

    Your view of electional is a little narrow. There are many inceptional charts where we know the particular event has a predetermined beginning and ending. Like taking a final exam, it is scheduled to begin, and it ends at a certain time. There may not be much choice involved about when it is scheduled, simply where and when it can fit in with other final exams going on.

    If two different nations had their inaugurations at the exact same time they would likely still have different charts, because of any distance between them. That could alter the degrees of the horizon and the meridian between the two charts. And if you happened to have two capitals (the likely place of inauguration) which were in the same time zone and close to each other, and they had their inaugurations at the same time, and the charts were very similar, then I would imagine their fates are very likely parallel to each other, and similar. I mean they would have to be, on the basic premise of astrology. This is just like the question of the astrology of twins, what can account for their differences. But what we tend to forget is already how similar they are. Don’t twins usually live in the same house? Same room? Same clothes? Same school? Same friends? Same mealtime? Etc.

    Thanks for reading.

  • V K Shridhar says:

    A blog titled “ Inauspicious time of oath by the next us president” was written on July 27, 2008
    For details please log on to

    The wherein it was observed that “the next US President shall take oath on 20th January, 2009 – which is observed as inauspicious time as per Vedic / Indian system of electional (Muhurt) astrology. Discussion herein is based on Indian system (Nirayana – Sidereal system) of astrology.”

    It was especially pointed out that retrograde & combust Mercury certainly indicates adverse effects. Now it is evident from the fumble in the oath ceremony itself.

    … V K Shridhar

  • Peter Burns says:

    The fact that the second chart is viewed by some as “much more inauspicious” does not invalidate it. The chart is what it is and we cannot say that a chart is invalid because we do not like it or because it does not conform to our expectations.
    Obama decided that it was necessary to go through the swearing in oath ceremony a second time in order to validate his presidency, so that is the chart that we must use. If the ascendant ruler Mercury is retrograde then we can only interpret that for what it is – much of his work will be retrospective and a necessary revision/correction of past errors.

  • Patrick Watson says:

    That point has already been addressed in the article.

  • Diana Brownstone says:

    Because Obama chose to do a second swearing in ceremony, it doesn’t nullify the first one from having happened. It also doesn’t make the second chart take precedence. The second chart signifies Obama’s desire to say the words right, and avoid legal controversy.. and that’s what the chart looks like. Legally he was president when he was sowrn in at noon, so that is the inauguration chart. Now that Mercury is retrograde, time to ‘fix’ my prior post and give recognition to the correct author, Patrick (!) of the article. Well-done.

  • Patrick Watson says:

    Well Chris edited and had input, but unfortunately WordPress doesn’t have an option (yet) to give credit to multiple writers for a particular entry. But thanks!

  • Marilyn Muir says:

    I have just seen this article and the responses, several months after it had been written. I have to laugh because I said much the same in my book Presidents of Hope and Change, an astrologically based study of the 10 presidents of hope and change, four in particular, but written non-technically for the general public. My compliments to you all. The law is specific on the passage of power. Noon. The personal part of it (required) is the moment of the oath itself. Chief Justice Roberts fumbled the words. President Obama tried to say them in the correct order. (He was already president). The second oath was a legal “just in case”. One thing that was not bought up in your discussion. The 29˚ Scorpio Moon fit both Obama’s and Biden’s charts (Biden was sworn in before noon which is traditional). The passage of power by law is still noon. Biden’s was before noon, Obama’s after noon. Power passed for both at noon. While I do believe in Void of Course when the choice can be made, no choice was possible under the law. If the VOC Moon is reflected in the natal chart(s), it is a valid Moon. For more of my thoughts on the oath-taking, please take a look at the free material available for astrologer (and non-astrologers) on my website Marilyn Muir, author

  • […] Featured Article » The Astrology of the Obama Oath Controversy: The True Inauguration Chart Fri, 01/23/09 – 9:21 | 13 Comments […]

  • william says:

    go with the first one

    mercury retrograde may have fudged it

    but this doesn’t mean it’s existence was wiped out!!

    it just means there was a merc retrograde then…

    he was still president tho’…

    (anyone doubt OBama has rightful presidency?)

    – no.

  • […] to winning the presidency, and then finally he reached a Leo level 2 period just four days after being inaugurated, which seems to have signaled his arrival to the Presidency […]